Forest City project can turn Johor into next Dubai: Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak posing for photographs with a group of supporters at a Barisan Nasional event in the Titiwangsa area in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak posing for photographs with a group of supporters at a Barisan Nasional event in the Titiwangsa area in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said Johor's massive Forest City development can help the transformation of the southern state, like Dubai, which built giant property projects to attract investors.

And he said the criticisms by former premier Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia was throwing away its sovereignty by selling Johor land and housing units to companies from China and their buyers are slander, as the projects are sold on 99-year leases.

"Today Dubai has become a great metropolis and its people earn high incomes. If Dubai can succeed, we too can develop land," he said in a speech at an event in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Tun Dr Mahathir had alleged that Chinese nationals coming to Johor could later qualify to become Malaysian citizens, and that they might be allowed to vote.

The Forest City development will see four islands reclaimed on the Malaysian side of the Johor Strait, with media reports saying that housing units there and in some 60 other Johor Baru projects were being offered to mainland Chinese buyers.

Datuk Seri Najib said the Chinese nationals, whose country is a global economic power and who earned high incomes, would not want to become Malaysians. He also said that the Chinese who participated in the Malaysia, My Second Home programme are not entitled to Malaysian citizenship, although they lived in this country.

Meanwhile, Mr Najib on Thursday evening launched his 2050 National Transformation, or TN50, road map for Malaysia - the successor to Dr Mahathir's Vision 2020.

Mr Najib said the goal "is for Malaysia to become a top 20 country in the world by 2050". The TN50 policy document is being drafted with public feedback.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Forest City project can turn Johor into next Dubai: Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe